“We Need at Least…”

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As a domain name buyer, one of the toughest replies to respond to is when someone tells me “we need at least $X to sell the domain name.” It makes it seem like the domain registrant is seeking $X for the domain name, but that is not the case. If I increase my offer to $X, there is a strong likelihood they will reject the offer and try to get a better offer. This is probably a good move from their end, but it’s annoying to me as a buyer.

As a domain name seller though, I like this reply. When responding with “we need at least $x to sell the domain name,” I can gauge the seriousness of the other party by how they reply to this. If they make an offer that meets this amount, I can tell them their offer will be considered and then counter at a higher number. If their offer exceeds this minimum, I can see they are very motivated to get a deal done and try for a higher number.

By providing a minimum number and making it clear that it is a minimum a domain seller can tell if the buyer is serious about buying the domain name. It can also buy time for the seller to do some additional research on the domain name to see if it warrants an even higher price than was originally considered. I prefer to keep a prospective buyer engaged rather than biding my time while waiting to respond to an inquiry or offer, so this is a good tactic to stretch out a negotiation without being non-responsive.

One counter argument is that this type of reply could annoy a prospective buyer. The counter party may think the seller is playing games and/or fishing for increasingly better offers. They do have a point to an extent. It’s sort of an evasive answer that gives a bit of a guideline without putting down a firm price. It makes it more difficult for a buyer to pin down the price, and that can frustrate prospects.

Update: Michael made a very good point in the comments about someone misinterpreting this type of response.

About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

8 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Elliot,

    You should consider DomainInvesting.SX and TopNotchDomains.SX, it is quite close to $X

    Thanks
    Normand

  2. I think that reply could (read: should) get sellers into hot water. Imagine if the reply was “I need $10,000 to sell this domain”. If the buyer said ok, then you’d have a binding agreement that the buyer could sue to enforce. No questions there.

    Well in that same vein, saying “I need at least $10,000 to sell this domain” really means that you would sell it for $10,000… because after all $10,000 is at least $10,000 and you said you’d sell at that level. So if the buyer replies with “Ok, I’ll take it at $10,000” then you should (and probably do) have a binding, enforceable agreement in place.

    If what you’re trying to say is you wouldn’t consider offers below $10,000 then just say that. It has the same effect and can get you the same intel on the buyer (since they might offer $15,000), without the bait and switch. And then you have every right to decline an offer even if it is in that range, because you just said you’d consider it, not that you’d sell.

    Otherwise what you’re essentially saying is “I want $10,000 unless you want to pay more,” which is just silly in its own right and makes no sense, but especially if you then refuse to accept the $10,000.

    Either party trying to negotiate in price ranges smacks of inexperience. Obviously the seller isn’t going to shoot for the low end of the buyer’s range, and the real low end of a buyer’s range is always actually zero. And the buyer isn’t going to shoot for the high end of the seller’s range, and the real high end of a seller’s range is always actually infinity. So there’s no point in saying a range at all. And then to decline an offer within your stated range for selling (not just for considering an offer)?

    • I appreciate what you’re saying and see your point about how it could be interpreted differently than intended.

      When I have been told the seller needs “at least $X,” I have assumed that’s the lowest offer amount that would even be considered rather than the asking price. I would not consider this binding, but that’s just me. Different interpretations of how things are stated are a cause of legal disputes all the time, so your opinion has merit.

      “Either party trying to negotiate in price ranges smacks of inexperience. ”

      I don’t agree with this statement. The domain name aftermarket is dynamic and prices can fluctuate. Nearly all brokers I’ve tried to buy from have given ranges rather than BIN prices. Here’s a recent reply from one of the top corporate domain brokerages after I asked about a domain name they represent: “Our client has set price expectations in the six figure range.” I am sure if I make an offer they will counter so we can make progress, but brokers often give a range and let the buyer go fishing.

  3. “it could be interpreted differently than intended” – and eventually, the person who gets to decide is a judge.

    I have had one instance, which went to a state court in a midwestern state, where the domain registrant intended to state that they would consider an offer of X, and the judge found a binding agreement. I have had other instances where much more definite email communications were not found to be a binding agreement.

    That’s why, in general, engaging in hypotheticals on the boundaries of grey areas is less productive than being clear in the first place. If all of your emails say something to the effect that nothing in your emails constitute an agreement to terms absent a formal signed writing additionally specifying timing, payment methods and other material terms, then you might avoid misunderstandings over whether you intend to contract via email communications or not.

  4. Why not say, “offers over x amount would be taken into serious consideration”. I don’t see any obligation if responded this way (this is not legal advice).

  5. Your example of a broker asking for offers in the six-figure range is equivalent to the broker saying “The minimum offer is $100k” but without mentally anchoring you to the low end of that range. Nothing wrong with that; it’s how it should be done, and is not what I’m talking about regarding negotiating in ranges. What I’m talking about would be the broker saying “We would sell for $100k+” which I promise you that you’ve never seen a serious broker do.

    It might seem like semantics, but the two ways of saying it mean very different things. Giving price guidance for an initial offer (e.g. “we would consider offers of”) is always a range (often with no cap, or bounded by an order of magnitude). Quoting a price you would sell at should not be a range, it should be a number. And you should actually be willing to sell at that number if it is received.

    Berryhill said it better than me. But essentially what I’m trying to get at is:

    “I would consider offers above $x” = Clear and comes with no obligations.
    “I need at least $x to sell” = Enjoy contributing to Berryhill’s beach house.

    I’m not saying everything has to be a BIN, just that wording like “I need at least $x to sell” is unnecessarily risky. If you want to give a range talk about it in the context of considering offers. If the context is what you’d actually sell for, give a specific number or you’re going to get sued at some point.

    Yea, it’s fairly obvious that they mean it as a minimum offer not a binding asking price, because as the latter it literally makes no sense to give a range. But because they left it open to interpretation, and taken literally means they would sell for $x, if you sued them over it there’s a good chance you’d win. So why intentionally put yourself in that kind of situation when instead you can just say what you mean (“the minimum offer is $x”) and get the same desired effect?

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